(I wrote this profile in anticipation of Rodgers being picked in the 4th-7th rounds. I'm the king of no expectations. Better late than never, laugh at this scouting profile now that he's a third round pick in Green Bay.)
In one of his final predictions as Cal head coach Jeff Tedford projected that Richard Rodgers would become the best tight end in college football. That didn’t really turn out the way Tedford was hoping. Rodgers had occasionally excellent moments during his sophomore and junior years at Cal, but they were interspersed with long periods of absent play and non-productivity.
Tedford probably envisioned that Rodgers would produce big things in his supposed two tight end scheme that he was trying to employ in his final year at Cal, but that other tight end (Spencer Hagan) missed the entire season due to injury and that game plan was quickly scuttled in favor of…something (I really can’t tell you the 2012 Cal offensive game plan. It’s a mystery to most of us.) Rodgers caught 7 passes for 129 yards against UCLA and 13 catches for 159 yards against everyone else in 2012.
Rodgers performed better in 2013, slimming down and shedding the quick fatigue that would usually impair his game in 2014. He would catch four or more passes in six games and find a way to get his touches. In the pass-happy offense that Cal ran in 2013, Rodgers found ways to get open. He also developed some solid blocking and performed more athletic feats than he was capable of the previous season.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure where that leaves him with regards to NFL standards. Rodgers is now kind of developed to be a tight end who can line out wide, but probably needs to put on a little weight to get better at grinding in the trenches. His hands were also variable. He would make some great catches but also miss a few bunnies. He also could never seem to get into the end zone, which is kind of what you want tight ends for as your secondary option once you reach red zone territory. But Rodgers only had two end zone forays during his time at Cal.
Rodgers leaving early for the NFL Draft was a bit surprising, but it seemed like he would never get a chance to really flash his talents in Sonny Dykes’s Bear Raid. What Cal needed from an inside receiver was someone who could run a lot of routes that were better suited to a wide receiver than a tight end, and Rodgers just never really fit into that role.
Here is Rodgers’s tape against the Furd in the Big Game.
Rodgers actually lined up as a standard tight end for most of the game to try and beat off the Cardinal rush, and was for the most part successful in defending his man in pass protection. He did a good job holding his own against his Cardinal defender and occasionally sprang the ball-carrier for a few additional yards. He also made some solid catches in traffic and turned it loose for some big gains in open field.
However, you can also see that Rodgers had a chance for a much bigger game but just missed on some really easy completions. Rodgers was good at sealing but didn't really do a lot of drive blocking to force his man back. And he always looked a little tentative when he had to make catches in cramped corners.